Sunday, February 12, 2006

Archery in Tokyo

I have decided to get back into archery and am looking for a local club/range. In Japan, possession of any type of weapon---firearm, swords, airguns (except for the "softair" guns) etc---are very, very strictly regulated or out-right prohibited. Huge kitchen butcher knives are all over the place and most murders seem to be committed with those. (One town even started regulating them as I wrote about last year.) So I was shocked to see no restrictions apparently on bows, including high-powered compound and recurve bows.

I have also become very curious about kyudo, traditional Japanese archery. Japanese long bows are used, and it appears to be more about form than anything else---very Japanese. There seems to be a lot more sitting and waiting, and concentration on basically---to me---unrelated trivial details. One may wait several hours to shoot a couple of arrows during a match, and (I have read) that you can hit the target correctly and still lose because you did not follow the correct procedure. And I am not talking about safety violations either.

In a way, this seems as if it would irritate me to no end. However, it is a different view of archery involving a much different point of view than I have used in the past in the sport. So it seems that it would combine my own interest in archery with a more traditional Japanese philosophy. Plus, I would not be there only as a foreigner to semi-tolerate and entertain. At least I wouldn't after the novelty wore off. I would also be able to improve my Japanese a lot easier by not being expected to speak English. Ideally, I would have to use Japanese 100% of the time.

If I join a group in downtown Tokyo, I will probably be with other non-Japanese which would even further reduce any special treatment for me, though I would not be using only Japanese.

Hopefully, I will have the time and money to get involved with both, as well as stay deeply connected to cycling, and get back into photography in a serious way.

Who knows, in a few years in the future, perhaps I can even get back into hunting. (Yes, one can own a rifle or shotgun outside of Tokyo.)

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